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Selectmen Endorse Construction of New Tennis Courts

If approved by Town Meeting voters, project would be paid for from Community Preservation Fund.

The Board of Selectmen and the Community Preservation Committee have both endorsed a plan to build a five-court tennis complex on the campus of the

The project would cost an estimated $375,000, according to Barry Lewin, president of Friends of Tewksbury Tennis, and would be paid for with Community Preservation Funds.

"The CPC met on July 9 and voted to fully fund all five courts," Lewin told the selectmen . "It's all CPC funds, so it will have no impact on the taxpayers.

The project is a scaled down version of a plan presented as part of the $1.9 million expanded stadium proposal, That plan included six courts, as well as lighting for night activities. The new plan removes one of the courts and includes no lights, in deference to concerns voiced by abutters, said Lewin.

The five-court proposal also has the support of , who will be drafting the warrant article for the Special Town Meeting in October.

Lewin told selectmen that the courts are desperately needed in Tewksbury, both as a community resource and to continue the growth of the tennis program at Tewksbury High. Presently, the only public tennis facilities in town are three courts at the

"The participation in tennis has exploded in town in recent years," said Lewin. "The youth programs in the summer are filled every year. On nice weekends there is a wait (to use) the courts on Livingston Street. And the (high school) tennis team has doubled in size in the last five years."

This spring, the .

Lewin also quoted figures, showing that Tewksbury's tennis facilities lag far behind those of neighboring communities. According to information supplied by Lewin, Wilmington has 16 public courts, Billerica has 14, Lowell has 30, Chelmsford has 18, Methuen has 13 and Andover has 14.

"We have just three. Clearly we need the help," he said.

According to the plan, the courts would be build adjacent , where the temporary parking lot now sits. It would be maintained by the School Department.

Lewin said he has been told by TMHS Athletic Director Brian Hickey that the constriction of the new courts would allow tennis to be added to the physical education program and for the addition of the boys varsity team.

"Everyone in the town will benefit," said Lewin.

Selectmen Scott Wilson and Ann-Marie Stronach agreed that the additional courts are needed in Tewksbury and thanked the Friends of Tewksbury Tennis for their persistence in supporting the project.

said he fully supported the project using Community Preservation funds but also brought up the need to find money in a future budget to improve the existing courts on Livingston Street.

The board voted unanimously to endorse the project.

Karyn July 18, 2012 at 03:38 PM
I believe legislation has recently passed to allow usage of CPA funding to include a recreational use component to the open space criteria under certain conditions which were met with this particular project proposal. Its ultimate passage (or not) will be determined by the voters at Special Town Mtg. in October.
Karyn July 18, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Just to make it clear....this has nothing to do with the athletic field project nor the FOTAC group. This is a SEPARATE project/group.
Jim Wentworth July 18, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Karyn, This was part of what the FOTAC supported. I know that everyone's focus was on the turf field but the tennis courts were also a key piece of the vision of this group. I agree with what Barry talked about last night. I've recently played tennis there with my wife and had my young daughters there and the language coming from the basketball courts and the skate park is not appropriate. I think our high school tennis team needs their own courts at the high school and encourage my fellow residents to support the article that will be presented to us at Town Meeting.
bk July 18, 2012 at 06:49 PM
Jim, I too stopped taking my kid to the Livingston area tennis courts in the evenings after similar experience with the language and noise from the Balketball courts. We go to the neighboring towns.. but feel like an asylum seeker there. --B
Steve Crane July 18, 2012 at 06:57 PM
I recently started playing over at Shedd park after watching Wimbeldon a few weeks ago. I would much rather play at Tewksbury High School. I am looking forward to this addition to our town. Just an extra comment: have you ever seen the courts at Bentley? They are royal blue and just look really classy; I wonder what the Tewksbury ones will look like. Can't wait!
Karyn July 18, 2012 at 07:13 PM
J.W.- They (FOTAC) may have supported it but you can't convince me that the artificial turf field with "lighted stadium bells and whistles" wasn't the primary motivation. People have said they might have supported the "tennis component" as more of a community need and less expensive alternative to a mega complex so IMO, it was wise for this 'faction group' to separate themselves as well as LISTEN to the resident abutters when it came to night lighting. That being said I don't want people to confuse the two individual proposals....and ultimately their vote at Special Town Mtg. in Oct. will decide. IMO, the latter is potentially viable, the first is not.
Jim Wentworth July 18, 2012 at 07:26 PM
Thanks Karyn. I'm not trying to convince you of anything other than hoping that you will support the passage of the article at Town Meeting for utilizing CPA funds for the tennis courts at the new High School. I agree with bk and Steve and hope that others feel the same way.
Steve Crane July 18, 2012 at 08:57 PM
Any chance there is a site plan showing where they will be located? I'm having trouble picturing where they will be.
malcolm nichols July 18, 2012 at 10:14 PM
What is important is that they are open to the public. They can be used by the school; however, they are not for the school.
Who Me? July 18, 2012 at 11:12 PM
Can someone explain to me how High School Tennis Courts is covered under the CPA? If it is then the CPA has become nothing more than a slush fund much in the same way the water/sewer enterprise fund is being used to bypass prop 2 1/2. Notice how the first 2 goals the CPA lists are Historic and Open Space Preservation. These are worthy goals and the specific reason most supported the CPA program. I'm assuming preservation means something? How many Historic Homesteads and How much open space has the Tewksbury CPA funds "preserved" Nothing-Zero-Nada Why not? http://www.communitypreservation.org/
Who Me? July 18, 2012 at 11:14 PM
They are for the High School Tennis Team.
Who Me? July 18, 2012 at 11:18 PM
In these tough economic times how much longer should the Taxpayers support paying EXTRA property taxes towards the "preservation" fund if neither historic or open space preservation ever takes place? Is this not a fair question?
Jim Wentworth July 18, 2012 at 11:42 PM
Who Me, There have been 17 projects from which CPA funds are/were utilized for Tewksbury. 9 were historic projects including the much needed renovation of our Town Hall, 6 were for affordable housing to meet state codes and standards, 1 was for open space issues at Long Pond and 1 was for improvements at Livingston and classified as recreation. I hope that helps. Jim
Who Me? July 19, 2012 at 12:04 AM
Most were involved with the Town Hall project. A new furnace I believe was one. Walks a fine line between historic preservation, and expected maintenance, that happens in any building. How much land was involved at the Long Pond site? How many historic homes have been preserved under CPA? How much open space has been preserved (in acres) under CPA? If Tennis Courts for High School Tennis Players is CPA eligible then where does it stop? Why not use CPA funds to build a new Fire Station in the Town Center? Firemen “preserve” property so they would have a more honest claim to CPA funds than Tennis Courts.
Who Me? July 19, 2012 at 12:09 AM
Oh yes, 1 project was "drainage" at the Livingston St Baseball Fields that TYBL in turn charges kid's to play ball on. Again, not a CPA worthy project.
Who Me? July 19, 2012 at 12:11 AM
If these "slush fund" projects funded to date had been discussed before the CPA fund was established the CPA fund would have been defeated hands down.
Who Me? July 19, 2012 at 12:15 AM
You do realize that in some Towns that the CPA fund was "preserving" nothing but pet projects the fund has become a target of recall votes to eliminate the fund and give the Taxpayers their money back.
Karyn July 19, 2012 at 02:56 AM
While I doubt anything I can say will convince you or other naysayers that the CPA is a GOOD thing for our Town and far from a slush fund,,,,being an advocate of said act I will give it a shot. The CPC adheres to strict guidelines under regulations put forth by the coalition. It has never been the purpose of the Committee to seek the projects, it is up to an applicant to come forward with a researched plan in hand to seek funding that meets the criteria. It is then the committee's responsibility to determine via vote whether it is an appropriate use according to the statute. The committee is made up of reps from BOS, Planning, Conservation, Historical, Affordable Housing, the Town Manager representing the Rec. Dept. and a citizen at large. To address a couple of your points...funding was initially used for the Town Hall boiler/furnace because the need was deemed both immediate and critical to literally save the building....if it weren't, we wouldn't even be discussing the historical renovation now which includes the preservation of Town records which were nearly destroyed by leakage over the years....likewise the steps to the building which were a safety hazard to the public and anyone working/doing business there. CPA funds also allowed for an historical survey to assess and acquire a listing of all historic properties in Town. FYI, there was a parcel of open space privately owned land that the CPC was attempting to purchase at one point but the asking price was too high.
Karyn July 19, 2012 at 03:38 AM
cont.- As far as the "new" use re. the tennis courts (recreation)....that legislation was just recently passed to add that facet to the guidelines when it meets certain criteria. As to the "worthiness/value" of the CPA as a whole, even though the state match is not 100% as it once was, it is STILL a substantial amount for our community's collective investment and it is money that WE pay into via the registry of deeds that would only go to other CPA towns if we didn't have it so why not get our fair share? IMO, it is still a good bang for our buck! As to the "worthiness" of the individual projects....ANYTHING and EVERYTHING brought forth by the CPC to benefit the Town will ALWAYS go to Open Town Meeting and be put before the residents where the voting citizens can have the final say. If you don't like the appropriation toward "whatever" project...don't vote for it....it's as simple as that.
Karyn July 19, 2012 at 03:43 AM
I believe they are to be located to the right side of the new HS building. The reason they dropped from 6 courts to 5 was to leave an appreciable buffer zone for the abutting residents that would not require removal of any more trees. They also aren't requesting lights.
Karyn July 19, 2012 at 03:44 AM
.....and to the community for use as well.
Pamella Proctor July 19, 2012 at 04:48 AM
Looking good on their Kylie!! And I'd love for the highschool to be just a healthy clean highschool again and more of us fellow highschoolers to respect it.
Robert L Homeyer July 19, 2012 at 10:04 AM
I agree they are badly needed and will be a good addition to the town's recreational resources. Outside of school sports, tennis courts, basketball courts, jogging tracks, and bike paths are something that can be used by entire town and are a good use of town funds.
Rusty July 19, 2012 at 01:24 PM
JUST SAY NO
SD From T-Bury July 19, 2012 at 01:42 PM
I really don't have a problem with this. At TM we told them to look elsewhere and they have. I think this is reasonable and would make a nice addition to our town. I also like that they would be open to the community. Of all the things in town to worry about, I don't think this is one. Right now this gets a yes from me at TM. Of course, I'll weigh my decision carefully.
SD From T-Bury July 19, 2012 at 01:42 PM
I remember some discussion of a rail trail. I wonder what ever happened to that. I'd love to have something like that in town.
Shaun July 19, 2012 at 02:23 PM
SD, I wouldn't hold your breathe. I think the overall thought is that there is not a stretch of abandoned rail that is really a good use for a rail trail. The two rails that could be used don't really head anywhere and are pretty short in distance. I think the cost to setup and maintain it was deemed unproportional.
SD From T-Bury July 19, 2012 at 02:32 PM
I figured as much, Shaun. There used to be some great abandoned trackage in town back when I was a kid in the 70's and 80's, including a branch that ran behind the Foster School and I think went most of the way through town. I remember walking those tracks in the early 80's and seeing RR equipment from the 1800's (I'm somewhat of a railfan). To my knowledge, those tracks are gone now, replaced by the Archstone complex and other development. I don't think (and don't hope) PanAm (Guilford) is going to abandon their trackage, so that's out. Ah well....
Dave July 19, 2012 at 03:47 PM
Yeah, they'll start charging fees just like Livingston St Park and using tax payer money to maintain it ! They' ll have to keep a legal accounting system for the cash collected.
Karyn July 19, 2012 at 03:54 PM
Upon researching further, I wanted to make a couple of edits to my above two posts for clarification. quote: "As far as the "new" use re. the tennis courts (recreation)....that legislation was just recently passed to add that facet to the guidelines when it meets certain criteria." In actuality this recreational use has always been allowed under the existing CPA guidelines: "the creation of a new recreational use".....ie. the tennis courts. The new legislation recently passed has to do with the "restoration of existing facilities on land owned or bought by the Town." As for Open Space....that left in Town for the most part is either State Land or privately owned. Again, the CPC does not go out and seek this type of thing and to date they have not been approached by any private land owner. quote: "FYI, there was a parcel of open space privately owned land that the CPC was attempting to purchase at one point but the asking price was too high." To this statement I would add..... "and exceeded the appraised value of the land" which is a CPA ruling. Hope this further clarifies the issue.

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